Brain Canada Brain Canada
FR Donate

2015 Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research

Principal Investigator:
  • Samuel David, McGill University
  • Barbara Turnbull Foundation

Project Overview

Dr. David and his research team are studying the mechanisms that control the delivery and release of iron in the nervous system. Iron is required for the survival and functioning of nerve cells. However, too much iron can cause damage to nerve cells. Their work has an impact on our understanding of damage following spinal cord and brain injury and diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and ways to promote recovery after nervous system damage. Iron is essential for life. In the nervous system, iron is required for the survival and functioning of nerve cells; and for the formation of myelin, the insulating fatty coat that surrounds nerve fibers that is required for proper conduction of nerve impulses. However, too much iron can cause damage to nerve cells. How normal iron levels are maintained in the nervous system and how iron is delivered to different types of cell in the nervous system is still not known. The aim of this proposal is to study the delivery and release of iron in the nervous system. In particular to study the role of a molecule called “ferroportin” in myelination, and in damage caused by excessive iron after nervous system injury and disease. This work will have an important impact for spinal cord and brain injury and diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and help to develop treatments to promote recovery after nervous system damage. Understanding the long term alterations which take place in the spinal cord after injury is of critical importance to design treatments for the prevention and alleviation of chronic neuropathic pain syndromes such as postherpetic neuralgia, causalgia following damage to a major nerve, diabetic neuropathy, allodynia, hyperalgesia, and spontaneous or phantom limb pain.